AFL to shorten pre-season for AFLX

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    The AFL is considering shortening next year’s pre-season series to accommodate its new hybrid game, AFLX.

    The shorter game, with smaller teams played on soccer-pitch sized grounds, has been likened to the AFL’s version of Twenty20 cricket.

    The league had toyed with the idea of having the bottom 10 teams play a tournament on the bye weekend before this year’s finals series, but decided against the move.

    Public interest in the AFL pre-season series has waned over the past decade.

    The league stopped awarding a trophy to the winner of its pre-season competition in 2013, preferring instead to allow teams to warm up for the season with three pre-season matches each.

    “We’d like to put an AFLX weekend in prior to the (pre-season competition) series … I think that has support from the club’s and I’m confident that will happen,” AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said.

    “We’ve got to finalise that and we’ve got to work with broadcasters and sponsors on the final configuration of the (pre-season) series.

    “If it’s two or three (games) – wherever it lands – I think we’ll still do something with AFLX.”

    The league’s pre-season conundrum also includes the best positioning of the second AFL Women’s season.

    Adelaide defeated Brisbane at Metricon Stadium to claim the inaugural AFLW premiership on the same weekend this year’s men’s competition opened, which is not the AFL’s ideal scenario.

    “We would like for the grand final to be in clean air the week before the opening round,” McLachlan said.

    “The challenge with that is you then come forward a week and you have to open the (AFLW) season on the Australia Day long weekend.

    “That’s a three-day weekend when a lot of people are away and it’s the final of the (Australian Open) tennis.”

    A decision on AFLW scheduling will be made in the coming weeks, along with the make-up of the competition with the AFL to decide which clubs will be granted entry to the league at commission meeting in late August.

    © AAP 2017
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